Greenlight: Is There an Ideal Entry Model for Indie Developers?

When Valve announced Greenlight, it opened a new door for indie developers, but they threatened to close that door. Where do we go now?

For those who have still not heard the news yet, Valve announced back in January that they want to discontinue the Steam Greenlight service. Greenlight was a service that Valve announced back in summer of 2012 as a method of giving new developers a chance to get on the main Steam Store.

How Does Greenlight Work?

When a developer gets their game posted on Greenlight, users have the chance to vote on whether they would buy that game. Steam then keeps a progress tracker — which is hidden to users but visible to the developer — showing how close they are to getting their game published to the store.World of tanks

Many of the games that succeeded on Greenlight have gone on to be successful games, including 7 Days to DieGiana Sisters: Twisted DreamsKingdom RushDead Trigger, Euro Truck Simulator 2, and more. This may seem like an ideal model, so why is it being shut down? Regardless of the successful games, Greenlight has its flaws.

Why Greenlight is Leaving

Greenlight has brought some great content to Steam, but those great games could have been discovered other ways. One of the things about PC gaming is that games can come from anywhere, not just Steam, Origin, or any other gaming hub. They can come from normal old websites like Kickstarter.

This is currently the most natural way of indie developers getting their games known, it worked for Notch with Minecraft. The problem is, as many of you know, the Internet is a very overpopulated service. It's not easy to just go out and find something like Minecraft unless the website spreads via word of mouth. This usually occurs when a game manages to make it on a gaming news publication, such as IGN, PC Gamer, or GameSpot.

The same thing has happened with Steam's Greenlight. Even though there were all these successful games, there are also many games that became Greenlit and did not succeed, such as Dragons and Titans. Even though all these people said they would buy it, it went on to receive a 44 from PC Gamer, a 3.0 from Gamespot, and just did not do well.

Now, as these games don't live up to their success on Greenlight, the Steam Store is being saturated by games that shouldn't have necessarily made it. So this leads us to the key question.

What is the alternative?

That is exactly what I want to know, and I am sure many of you want to know, too. Regardless of the downfalls of Greenlight, it did work in bringing games to the people who may have failed otherwise. So do we raise the required votes it takes to succeed on Greenlight?

Valve could have possibly made that move, but they have seemed pretty clear that they will not give Greenlight another chance; it has to go. For now, Greenlight is still around, but indefinitely. The greatest tool now for new indie developers is networking; countless successful indie developers mentioned networking in Q&A columns from the recent GDC. 

So for all of you who are just starting out in the world of developing, spread your name. Don't be afraid to market yourself and let as many people know as possible--you never know when you will find your game in the news section. Notch went from developing in his free time to having money pouring in before he had a chance to realize what was going on... and it could happen to you to.

Also, for all those who think they have an idea for the alternative to Greenlight, let's hear it! You just might be on to something.


I am a gamer and game developer from western Canada who is covering everything gaming in his free time.

Published Apr. 3rd 2014

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